Consumers are increasingly concerned about the move to do away with the 3.5mm audio port in favor of USB-C connectors.
Apple is rumored to have removed the 3.5mm port on the iPhone 7, and the Moto Z has already done away with it. While the move has been hailed as progress by some, others are concerned about having to reinvest in new accessories.
Intel explains love for USB-C
Only a few devices have USB-C connections as it stands, but it looks likely to be introduced to more and more pieces of technology. Now Intel has come out in praise of USB-C as a superior alternative to the 3.5mm port.
Intel architects Brad Saunders and Rahman Ismail took the stage at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco this Wednesday, in order to explain how the USB-C connector has been improved. One advantage for manufacturers is the ability to make thinner phones by doing away with analog circuitry. The move to digital audio could also allow technology companies to introduce features like noise cancelling and bass boost to cheaper headphones, whereas they were once the preserve of more expensive models.
Some commentators point out that unwieldy adapters will be needed, while others say that USB-C connectors will use more power than 3.5mm counterparts. Battery life is already a worry for many smartphone users, so introducing technology that places further strain on the battery is likely to be unpopular with consumers.
Audio, video and fitness tracking applications
However Sanders believes that it would be possible to make a USB-C port that detects when headphones are not in use, and turn it off to save battery. The Intel architect suggests that “the difference in battery life is negligible” with USB headphones.
USB-C could also have video uses, as it is able to make high-throughput data transfers. As a result it could be used to run apps or watch movies on a display from your smartphone.
Another bonus is that USB-C can deal with multiple simultaneous connections, allowing you to transmit video while charging the device. Sanders believes that these capabilities “will really make USB Type-C the right connector for audio.”
Intel has thrown its weight behind USB-C, suggesting that alongside video and audio improvements, the connector will be able to handle fitness-related functions.